desolate

adjective
des·o·late | \ ˈde-sə-lət , ˈde-zə- \

Definition of desolate 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : devoid of inhabitants and visitors : deserted a desolate abandoned town

2 : joyless, disconsolate, and sorrowful through or as if through separation from a loved one a desolate widow

3a : showing the effects of abandonment and neglect : dilapidated a desolate old house

b : barren, lifeless a desolate landscape

c : devoid of warmth, comfort, or hope : gloomy desolate memories

desolate

verb
des·o·late | \ -ˌlāt \
desolated; desolating

Definition of desolate (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to make desolate:

a : to deprive of inhabitants The neighboring towns were desolated.

b : to lay waste desolating the city with bombs

c : forsake their desolated families back home

d : to make wretched

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Other words from desolate

Adjective

desolately adverb
desolateness noun

Verb

desolater or desolator \-ˌlā-tər \ noun
desolatingly \-ˌlā-tiŋ-lē \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for desolate

Adjective

alone, solitary, lonely, lonesome, lone, forlorn, desolate mean isolated from others. alone stresses the objective fact of being by oneself with slighter notion of emotional involvement than most of the remaining terms. everyone needs to be alone sometimes solitary may indicate isolation as a chosen course glorying in the calm of her solitary life but more often it suggests sadness and a sense of loss. left solitary by the death of his wife lonely adds to solitary a suggestion of longing for companionship. felt lonely and forsaken lonesome heightens the suggestion of sadness and poignancy. an only child often leads a lonesome life lone may replace lonely or lonesome but typically is as objective as alone. a lone robin pecking at the lawn forlorn stresses dejection, woe, and listlessness at separation from one held dear. a forlorn lost child desolate implies inconsolable grief at loss or bereavement. desolate after her brother's death

dismal, dreary, bleak, gloomy, cheerless, desolate mean devoid of cheer or comfort. dismal indicates extreme and utterly depressing gloominess. dismal weather dreary, often interchangeable with dismal, emphasizes discouragement resulting from sustained dullness or futility. a dreary job bleak suggests chill, dull, and barren characteristics that utterly dishearten. the bleak years of the depression gloomy often suggests lack of hope or promise. gloomy war news cheerless stresses absence of anything cheering. a drab and cheerless office desolate adds an element of utter remoteness or lack of human contact to any already disheartening aspect. a desolate outpost

What is the Word Origin of desolate?

Adjective

Something that is desolate is literally or figuratively "abandoned," so you probably won't be surprised to learn that "desolate" has its roots in the Latin verb desolare, meaning "to abandon." The Middle English word desolat comes from the past participle of "desolare," which in turn combines the prefix de- and the adjective solus, meaning "alone." "Desolate" is not at all alone in this family of words. Some other familiar descendants of "solus" include "solitary," "sole," "solo," "solitude," and "soliloquy."

Examples of desolate in a Sentence

Adjective

a desolate house abandoned many years ago destitute and desolate since her husband walked out on her

Verb

totally desolated the city with aerial bombs
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The Skeleton Coast with its desolate rocky coastline, noisy colonies of Cape fur seals and remains of shipwrecks is accessed either by a fascinating drive or scenic flight, depending on the weather. Town & Country, "These Are the 83 Top Hotels Around the World," 6 Oct. 2016 Empty fields dot the area for blocks; a place where bunny rabbits hop through a desolate urban landscape. Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press, "A daughter of Detroit defies odds, takes car industry into the future," 13 July 2018 Nearly half the homes on her desolate block of Ramsay Street are empty and boarded. Tim Prudente, baltimoresun.com, "Collapse: The rise and deadly fall of a Baltimore rowhouse," 12 July 2018 The landscape looked desolate and hostile, but not entirely alien. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "Sony at E3: Death Stranding is every bit as bizarre as Kojima fans dreamed," 12 June 2018 The plan also has the potential to dramatically reshape the area around Union Station and west of Bushnell Park, now a desolate jumble of concrete highway support columns and ramps. Kenneth R. Gosselin, Courant Community, "Hartford's Union Station May Be Used By CTfastrak Under Redevelopment Plan," 9 July 2018 On the highway from Damascus to Aleppo, towns and villages lie desolate. The Economist, "How a victorious Bashar al-Assad is changing Syria," 28 June 2018 In Niger, where the majority head, the lucky ones limp across a desolate 9-mile no-man's-land to Assamaka, less a town than a collection of unsteady buildings sinking into drifts of sand. Fox News, "Algeria abandons 13,000 migrants in the Sahara," 25 June 2018 At a time when New Haven streets would otherwise be desolate, with Yale on break, public schools still in session, and other big summer activities yet to start, Arts & Ideas creates an aura of artfulness and intelligence around the city. Christopher Arnott, courant.com, "A Mesmerizing 'Merchant Of Venice' As Arts & Ideas Hits Its Stride," 21 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'desolate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of desolate

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for desolate

Adjective

Middle English desolat, from Latin desolatus, past participle of desolare to abandon, from de- + solus alone

Verb

see desolate entry 1

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Last Updated

29 Aug 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for desolate

The first known use of desolate was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for desolate

desolate

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of desolate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: lacking the people, plants, animals, etc., that make people feel welcome in a place

: very sad and lonely especially because someone you love has died or left

desolate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of desolate (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make (someone) feel very sad and lonely for a long time

: to damage (a place) in such a way that it is no longer suitable for people to live in

desolate

adjective
des·o·late | \ ˈde-sə-lət \

Kids Definition of desolate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : having no comfort or companionship : lonely

2 : left neglected or in ruins a desolate old house

3 : without signs of life : barren a dry, desolate land

4 : cheerless, gloomy She put aside desolate thoughts.

Other words from desolate

desolately adverb

desolate

verb
des·o·late | \ ˈde-sə-ˌlāt \
desolated; desolating

Kids Definition of desolate (Entry 2 of 2)

: to ruin or leave without comfort or companionship

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